LONDON: Food labelling, often a contentious area for brands, is coming under renewed scrutiny in the UK as farmers protest that supermarkets' use of invented "farm brands" is misleading.
The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has written to the National Trading Standards organisation – set up by the government to protect businesses and consumers from rogue traders and marketing scams – asking it to look at whether 'fake' farm branding complies with the relevant legal requirements.
The farming body referenced Tesco in particular, which earlier this year introduced a number of such names, including Willow Farms, Nightingale Farms, Redmere Farms, Woodside Farms, Rosedene Farms, Boswell Farms and Suntrail Farms.
At that time, Ruth Mason, chief food chain adviser at the NFU, said that "there will inevitably be shoppers who are led to believe that the fictional names of the farms are the real source of the product", adding that "this makes the need for clear and accurate origin labelling even greater".
Since then, a YouGov survey commissioned by the NFU found that at least three in five respondents who said these farm products in their view were "definitely" or "probably" British, would feel misled if this was not the case and were told that the product could be from another country.
The Drum reported that pork and beef products sold by Tesco under fictional farm brands have been sourced in Denmark and Ireland.
But Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis claimed that consumers understood perfectly well that one single farm could not supply all of an organisation of its size.
"Do they know that one single farm does not supply everything across all product forms? Yes… what was really important to them was 'do they come from farms?' Well clearly they do," he said.
Tesco is by no means the only supermarket using such fictional farm brands, but only Aldi has made a commitment to use only British produce in them, and even then not until the end of March 2017.
Data sourced from NFU, The Drum; additional content by Warc staff